Here are two entirely unrelated pieces of information. Our developer, Will, went to Japan earlier this year and brought back a book of photos of women licking doorknobs. Our friend, Adam Graham, plays in the band FACT as the “token white guy” (his words, not ours). What’s our framework for this? Well, Japan can be strange, and we’ve got a man right in the middle of it. BRING ON THE GUEST COLUMN.
Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the first instalment of what may or may not become a semi-regular column about the weird world of metal in Japan, popping up unexpectedly amongst the hallowed electronic pages of Thrash Hits, like cod sperm sacs amidst an otherwise harmless array of bar snacks (this happened). I only hope that revisiting this column at your leisure proves to be a less violently gut-wrenching experience for you than revisiting said sperm sacs was for me, mere hours after originally consuming them.
These are cod sperm sacs. People here eat these like you or I eat Quavers:
“But wait! Who is this sperm-guzzling idiot and what qualifies him to preach to me about metal on the other side of the world?” – you may or may not be thinking something along these lines, so to err on the side of caution, allow me to present my credentials; my name is Adam and despite being an Englishman, I play guitar and sing in the Japanese rock band, FACT. And before the trve kvlt troll metal warriors get their knickers in a twist about my band and how metal or not metal we are or are not, allow me to say something – fuck you. Just trust that the Gods of blood and thunder who bring Thrash Hits to you have asked me to write this column because I am at least quasi-knowledgeable on the subject. Believe in them. They’ve never done anything to wind you up before, have they?!
Despite my unflinchingly grim, Northern demeanour, I seem to be able to function reasonably well in Japan, at least on a very superficial day-to-day level. I manage to get sustenance. I have learned the native tongue and so I am able to interact with the locals with varying degrees of success. I have even managed to get Sky TV installed in my apartment, which shows 3pm Saturday Premier League games LIVE. Some might say I have it made. People who would say such a thing would be very, very wrong, because in spite of the seeming ease with which I deal with life here…
I USUALLY DON’T HAVE A FUCKING CLUE WHAT IS GOING ON.
This used to bother me. I used to want to understand. Now, I merely let Japanese popular culture wash over me, like a gently frothing, frothy wave of froth. I fluctuate mainly between bemusement and irritation at most of the music, film and television that is thrust at me by the Japanese media. For every Envy here, there are ten thousand AKB48s. But I’m not here to tell you what I think is good or bad, I’m here to present the off-the-wall, the oddities, the things that could only really exist here. For example, earlier this year my band played at one of Japan’s many summer festivals, and a couple of bands before us on the bill were BabyMetal.
They’re not quite babies, but they are little girls. I guess they’re not quite metal either, but hey, a name is a name. They’ve also re-appropriated the age-old hand sign of metal, the devil horns, and bastardized it into some cutesy fox-like gesture. It’s…an odd one.
If you can make it through all three of these videos, email us. We’ll give you a prize.
Now, I have to say, despite looking like a bunch of dudes who didn’t quite make it into Mushroomhead, the backing band here were one of the tightest units I’ve seen in a long time. Total pros. What I didn’t really (want to) understand was how this band came about. Did these 10 year old girls seriously decide of their own accord that they wanted to dance along to some pseudo-industrial throbbing grind-dance? Or did the Mushroomhead-looking guys get together one night and decide “say, what we really need is three 10 year old girls dancing in front of us; that would really rule”.
Whatever the genesis of BabyMetal, there is a worryingly large audience for this kind of thing here, and what this says about Japanese society is probably something for someone’s dissertation. Good luck with that. I am but a messenger, and it is here that I will leave you, but hopefully I’ll be back in the not-too-distant future with something equally as strange, and ideally a little less worrying.
Well, that was Adam from FACT’s first column for Thrash Hits (but hopefully not his last, but he’s a busy man on the other side of the world, so it’s not as if we can go round his flat to bug him to do another). Come and talk shit to him in the meantime over on FACT’s official Facebook page, or on their official Twitter profile. FACT’s latest album, Burundanga, finally received an official worldwide release earlier this year via Good Fight Music, so go buy a copy and help keep Adam from having to resort to eating leftover cod sperm sacs to stay alive.